Sights of Delhi, India
Delhi is a bright and inimitable city, where the exotic of the past coexists with the achievements of the present, and the extreme poverty of some districts pays off luxury villas, expensive shops and restaurants, the splendor of temples and palaces.
To date, there are 60 thousand urban monuments, known in India and beyond, many of which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Delhi, there are temples of all famous world religions, memorial complexes, many museums, palaces, sculptural groups and parks. To see this, it will take more than one week. But there are such attractions in the city, where almost all tourists and residents of the country are trying to get.
The Gateway of India is not just an architectural creation in the new part of the Indian capital. This is a memorial, a national monument. Various delegations come here to lay wreaths at the tomb of fallen soldiers, where the Eternal Flame also burns.
The gates of India are made in the form of a traditional arch, whose height is 42 meters. Golden sandstone and granite were chosen for the monument, which changes its color depending on the lighting. On the walls of the gates are carved the names and surnames of soldiers killed in various military conflicts of the XX century. Above there is a small dome, where it was supposed to light a fire on the days of major national holidays.
The gates of India were built in 1931 by the British architect Edwin Lacens, who for a long time headed the Royal Academy of Arts in England. Since 1912, he was engaged in the planning of New Delhi. The presidential palace in the capital of India, which still remains one of the largest and most grandiose buildings of this type, was also designed by Lacens. In 1971, after the end of one of the wars with Pakistan, the Grave of the Unknown Soldier was erected here at the foot of the grave, where fire was fired in honor of the fallen soldiers.
Not far from the memorial is another attraction — a small dome, supported by columns. Created by the same Lacens, this pedestal was intended for the statue of George V, the ruler of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
His Majesty visited here in 1911, when the transfer of the capital from Calcutta took place. George V in royal vestments did not stay long in the center of the city. In 1947, when India becomes an independent country, the monarch leaves his pedestal and goes to the outskirts of the Coronation Park.
India Gate is located in the center of a small park where locals love to spend their weekends. This place is not empty at night. Illuminated by a multitude of spotlights, the gate and the park itself look very attractive at this time. For several years next to the memorial they are holding a colorful kite festival.
Rajpath Avenue (Rajpat), along which government offices are lined up, leads from India Gateway. This is the main street of the city, where many events take place. And on Republic Day here is a military parade — a spectacle bright and colorful, given the colorful uniforms of soldiers, elephants under canopies, camels under saddles, acrobatic numbers and passing platforms with recreated sights of India on them.
How to get there
You can get here yourself by bus or by metro to the stop at Akbar Road or Baroda House. But you will have to walk from it for about fifteen minutes, and the buses stop almost near the memorial.
Mahatma Gandhi is a symbolic person for India, a politician and philosopher, the “father of the nation”, a fighter for the freedom of the state, who put forward the idea of peaceful resistance. According to polls in the UK, he is considered a «man of the millennium.» Many cities in India can boast of their Gandhi museums. Delhi also has a memorial for the memory of the Raj-Ghat politician. It was here in 1948 that the body of Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. Raj Ghat is a must-see for distinguished guests, and almost all foreign tourists come here.
Previously, Raj Ghat was called the area on the river Jamna. Ghat in Hindi is a ritual place, steps descending to the water. In India, traditionally, in such places rites of farewell to the dead, washing of the bodies and their burning here on the shore take place. Delhi Raj-Ghat by the decision of the authorities became a memorial park.
The monument itself is a slab of black marble, on which wreaths of natural flowers are constantly lying. There is also an inscription in Hindi, which can be translated as “Oh, God!”. Such were the last words of Gandhi spoken to him before his death. By the way, the wounded Mahatma managed to forgive his killer. Next to the stove there is a closed lamp, where the fire of the memory of the great son of India constantly burns. On the territory of the memorial complex there are also places of cremation of other prominent political figures of the country: Indira Gandhi, her son, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Visit Memorial can be absolutely free. The only requirement is that shoes are removed in front of the monument. Every Friday there are memorable ceremonies in honor of Mahatma Gandhi, and on weekends in the museum opposite the park a film about his life is shown.
How to get there
Raj Ghat is located next to the bus stop with the same name. From the metro station Indraparshtha (Indraprastha) will have to walk almost two kilometers.
In some sources, the sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi includes the sculptural group depicting eleven walking figures. At the head of the procession is the very «father of the nation.» The monument is called the Gandhi Salt Campaign and recalls the events of 1930, when the teacher and his followers walked almost 400 kilometers, thereby expressing disagreement with the salt policy of Britain.
This action was the beginning of the peaceful demonstrations of the people of India against their colonialists. This sculptural group is not part of the Memorial and is located 10 kilometers away. By the way, the Gandhi Salt Camp can be seen on Indian banknotes of 500 rupees.
Qutb Minar is an ancient temple complex, a great example of how several rulers together and consistently erected one landmark. The construction of the main tower of the complex began under Qutb al-Din Aibek, the Muslim ruler of North-West India. This decision was made in honor of the defeat of the Hindu kingdom of Delhi. It happened at the turn of the XII and XIII centuries. The following two sultans added upper floors to the existing base. The construction of the tower ended in 1368.
The result of almost two hundred years of work was the Qutb Minar, 73 meters high. It consists of five floors, separated by balconies, running around the perimeter. The diameter of the tower at the base is 15 meters, then it gradually tapers to two and a half meters at the highest point of the building. Inside there is a spiral stone staircase, with almost 400 steps. The lower part of the minaret is made of sandstone, and marble was also used in the construction. The outer walls are decorated with Arabic script and Islamic ornaments.
Formally, this structure is considered a minaret, although it is difficult to imagine how you can hear a muezzin calling for prayer from a similar height. Add to this the noise of the big city. Therefore, historians suggest that the tower was built in honor of the victory of Islam or had military significance and was a good observation point. The building is slightly tilted away from the nearby mosque. The ancient architects thus wanted to preserve other buildings in the event of a possible fall of Qutb Minar.
The complex has a lot of destroyed remains of other buildings. For example, the mosque Kuvvat-ul-Islam. Above its gate there is an inscription, where it was reported that the construction of this temple was the material of 27 Hindu churches. The remains of another tower, the minaret of Alai Minar, is preserved. It was built in honor of the conquest of South India. Sultan Alauddin Khilji decided to prove to others that he was «the best of the best», therefore his tower should be twice as high as Qutb Minar. The ambitious plans of the ruler did not come true. The Sultan died, and the new minaret remained unfinished.
Another interesting attraction of the complex is an iron column, which is 7 meters high. Installed in 415, this pillar is not susceptible to corrosion. Numerous studies have put forward many versions of the method of manufacturing the column, but none have been accepted as a basis. Therefore, there are hypotheses about the extraterrestrial origin of the object.
Qutb Minar is a place frequented by tourists and local chipmunks. Therefore, after watching the ruins of the past, in the present, do not forget to grab nuts and feed curious animals.
How to get there
The easiest way to visit Qutb Minar is to take a taxi or rickshaw. There are also Saket or Qutub Minar bus stops nearby. Choosing the subway, you will have to exit at one of the Qutub Minar or Green Park stations. Then it will be necessary to walk 15 minutes on foot to the necessary place.
The popularity of this building, built in 1986, surpassed the Taj Mahal. The Lotus Temple or House of Worship is the cult building of the young Bahá’í religion. Against the background of traditional beliefs dating back more than one millennium, Baha’ism resembles a child. But the child is kind and wise. The founder of the Bahá’ís Sayyid Ali Muhammad (Bab) lived in the territory of modern Iran.
The creator of religion was a Muslim by birth. Therefore, some scholars claim that the origins of the Bahá’ís are in Islam. The new religion believes that all beliefs come from one source, humanity is a single family and the time has come to unite in a large peaceful society.
That is why people belonging to different confessions can come and pray to Baha’i temples. The traditional services here are replaced by prayer programs consisting of familiarizing with the scriptures of different religions, and hired volunteers are engaged in visitors.
A huge snow-white flower blooms on the water among the greenery of the park. Twenty-seven white petals are arranged in three rows. And the nine basins at the base reproduce the water element, just as lotuses grow in their natural environment. This is the exterior of the Lotus Temple located in New Delhi. Although it would be more correct to call it the House of Prayer, like all structures of the Bahá’í religion. The Lotus Temple is an unusual structure with many awards in the field of architecture.
The diameter of the building is 70 meters. In the highest part, the distance from the floor is 35 meters. Marble slabs for the temple were specially brought from Greece. From such a building material erected the Athenian Acropolis. Openings and pools with water create natural ventilation, so the temple is always cool. A well-kept park is spread around the building, along which it is allowed to walk and take pictures. At night, the building is skillfully illuminated, which creates an absolutely fantastic picture.
In the sacred books of the Bahá’ís it is stated that the walls of the temples should not be decorated with anything, and the halls should not have icons, sculptures and altars. This is not the case in the Lotus Temple. The only bright spot here is the golden sign of the Bahá’í religion on the dome with an inscription which, in Arabic, sounds like “God is above all”. The central room contains only seats for 1,300 people and a small chair for performances. The lack of religious objects helps all those who attend the temple to feel as one, not torn apart by various religious views.
In the hall leads nine doors. In general, the number nine in the belief of the Bahá’ís has a sacred meaning and symbolizes the unity of the nine major world religions. No wonder all the prayer houses are built with nine parties. A small museum is opened in the Lotus Temple, where materials about the construction of this structure are stored.
Only the computer design of the building took almost two years. The architect was Canadian Fariborz Sahba, and he was inspired by the Sydney Opera House. He financed the construction of Ardishir Rustampur, one of the loyal supporters of the Bahá’í belief.
Today there are eight temples of Baha’i worship in the world. Of course, the Indian Lotus among them is the most significant in its architectural embodiment. But the rest of the buildings can claim originality. For example, in American Illinois, a white-stone temple was built, resembling an openwork dome. And the top of the Chilean House of Worship resembles a half of a huge egg, which rests on nine narrow walls with staircases. The Baha’i community built its first temple at the beginning of the 20th century in Ashgabat.
The rules for visiting the Lotus Temple are simple: you must take off your shoes at the entrance, video and photography are prohibited in the building itself, and outside conversations are not welcome. Outside the large hall, wonderful acoustics have been created, so that the loudest sound is clearly audible far around. Tourists visit the temple in groups. Moreover, residents of other countries always skip ahead. You can visit the temple absolutely free, it works all week except Monday.
How to get there
You can get to the Lotus Temple by several buses, for example, number 47, 411, 423 and others. But in the intricacies of the Indian capital, it is difficult to find bus stops and try to understand where one route or another has been laid. Therefore, it is easier to get to the right place on the subway and get off at Kalkaji Mandir station. Or take a taxi.
Akshardham is one of the most beautiful and largest temples in India. The temple complex also includes the entire adjacent park with fountains and canals, many sculptures, catering points and shops with gifts and souvenirs. The territory of all this attraction is 12 hectares. The idea of creating Akshardhama originated in 1968, but construction began only at the beginning of the 21st century. The temple was built on donations collected, which in total amounted to half a billion dollars.
More than 10 thousand craftsmen and simple volunteer workers who wanted to create a new history of India with their own hands were involved in the construction. The temple complex turned out great. No wonder it was based on the traditional canons of Indian classical architecture. Akshardhama was opened in 2005.
The central place of the complex is the temple with a height of 42 meters. Its walls are traditionally covered with carvings. There are a huge number of Indian deities, scenes from the history of India and more than two hundred external columns supporting the external vaults. Only one elephants cut 148 figures. Unlike modern buildings, which have reinforced concrete armature, Akshardham is completely made of pink marble. The temple is beautiful and refined inside, where everything is made of white marble.
On three sides, the temple is surrounded by an artificial pond that combines water from all the rivers of India. The territory of the temple includes gardens and musical fountains, where in the evening arrange a show for the audience. For large sizes and magnificent incarnation Akshardham was listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
When visiting the temple, be prepared to go through very tight security checks. At the entrance there are frames of metal detectors. All things, except documents and money, will have to be left in the storage room. Photographing and shooting video in rooms is prohibited. Such measures are introduced for the safety of tourists and the safety of one of the most beautiful temples in India. To explore the entire complex of buildings and surrounding areas will take a long time.
There are several museums in Akshardham telling about the history, culture and beliefs of Swaminarayan. The exposition of the first museum consists of pictures of the life course of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the main tenets of his teaching about a happy life. In several rooms, the action is all robots.
The second tells about the achievements of India in various fields: culture, science, education. Visitors take their seats in boats and start, in the literal sense of the word, to sail on the history of the country. The third museum turns out to be a cinema hall, where a film about Swaminarayan and his journey around the country in his youth is shown on a stereo screen. In the evening you can visit the fountain show on the temple grounds. The complex has cafes and souvenir shops.
How to get there
The Akshardham complex is open daily from 9.30 to 18.30, except Monday. It is located at: National Highway 24, Near Noida Mor, New Delhi. You can get here using the services of a rickshaw or a taxi. Not far from Akshardhama is the metro station of the same name. There is also a public transport stop called Noida More, where many buses stop. The site of the temple explains in detail how to get to this place.
The Humayun Mausoleum is the tomb of rulers and their families belonging to the Baburids dynasty. In the Middle Ages, a state existed on the Indian subcontinent, later called the Mogul Empire. It was created by Zahireddin Mohammed Babur, who was a descendant of Tamerlan on the paternal side.
And relatives of the mother descended from Genghis Khan. He left the conquered territory to four children, and appointed the supreme ruler of the empire the eldest son Humayun, whose son Akbar, in turn, became the actual founder of the Mughal Empire, as he had devoted many years of his rule to the unification and pacification of the country.
The second emperor Humayun lived 48 years. In the days free from fighting with the Afghan Surid dynasty, the ruler loved to indulge in reading and was fond of Persian poetry. Among the sciences singled out astrology and astronomy. He died ridiculously, entangled in the floor of his dressing gown and rolled down the stairs. As a result, and received damage, as they say, «incompatible with life.»
Subsequently, the emperor’s sister Gulbadan-Begum compiled a detailed biography of his brother. A few years after his death, at the request of the older wife of the Bega-Begum Sahiba, a magnificent tomb was built, which became a kind of example for future architects. For example, at the request of Shah-Jahan, the great-grandson of Humayun, the Taj Mahal was built in Agra, India, with outlines resembling the tomb of a great ancestor.
The tomb of Humayun was built almost eight years. At its construction went sandstone red. The building is decorated with inlays of black and white marble, as well as many arches. The tomb is set on a quadrangular platform, and the height of the central dome reaches 38 meters.
In the main hall of the tomb are the sarcophagi of Humayun himself, his wives and several emperors from the Great Mologa. Around the tomb are large gardens with alleys and pedestrian paths. Narrow channels divide the territory into 36 squares, so that from above the park resembles a tetrad sheet in a cell. On the territory of the tomb there are other mausoleums. For example, the imperial barber was honored with this honor.
How to get there
The tomb is open for tourists all day before sunset. It is located near the station Hazrat-Nizamuddin, from which you can walk on foot or hire a rickshaw. The JLN Stadium subway station is also nearby.
Each ruler always tried to leave behind magnificent buildings. Shah Jahan, one of the Great Moguls, at the behest of which the capital of the state was moved to Delhi, was no exception. He called the city by its name — Shahjanabad. Here was built the imperial palace of Lil-Kila, better known as the Red Fort for the bright color of its walls.
Construction was carried out from 1639 to 1648. The costs were huge. The length of the outer walls of the fort was 2.5 kilometers, and the height of the walls, depending on the location, ranged from 33 meters from the street and up to 16 meters by the river. The magnificence of buildings for the reception, mosques and gardens of the fort could be compared with the best European buildings.
Here the palace life of the imperial court was in full swing, filled with numerous affairs and magnificent ceremonies. But during the XVIII century, the fortress repeatedly repelled the attack of the enemy. Some of the buildings were destroyed, and the treasures of the imperial family were plundered.
Red Fort has several gates. Some of them are called Lahore in the city in neighboring Pakistan. The other gates, Delhi, were intended for important ceremonial processions.
There is a small museum on the territory of the fort in Nabat Khana building, which tells about the armament of the Indian army since ancient times. In the same building there is also a large hall where musicians once performed. Tourists can visit the Hall of public audiences, the so-called Divan-i-Am.
They came here with complaints and petitions, and the emperor sitting on the throne administered the court and decided the fate of his subjects. The Palace of Paints served as the female half of the fort or harem. According to the surviving descriptions, the ceiling and walls here were decorated with precious metals and stones, expensive carpets lay on the marble floor, and fountains were beating in the courtyard. But nothing of this has been preserved.
On the territory of the fort there are Turkish baths, the Pearl Mosque and other structures reminiscent of the great empire. Unfortunately, some of them are closed. But tourists will be interested in the Chatta Chowk bazaar, where you can buy Indian souvenirs. And today, the Red Fort plays an important role in the life of India. Every year in August there are celebrations marking Independence Day. And for tourists, laser shows are staged every evening, telling about the history of this place. Performances are in Hindi and English.
How to get there
Traveling on your own, you can get here by bus. Past the fort goes many routes. The stop is called Red Fort.
Jama Masjid Mosque
Jama Masjid Mosque is the most visited place in Delhi, at the same time accommodating almost 25 thousand believers. No wonder its name in translation sounds like «reflecting the world.» Built on top of a hill, which visually adds height, the building looks majestic and solemn.
The construction of the mosque fell on the board of Shah Jahan, by whose decree religious buildings were erected in other cities, as well as the Taj Mahal in Agra. Construction work went on for six years, more than five thousand craftsmen and ordinary workers worked here.
The main entrance of the mosque is from the east. A staircase of 35 steps leads to it. The building is crowned with three domes of white marble, four towers are built in the corners. The mosque has two high minarets made of red sandstone. For a certain amount you can climb to the upper platform of one of them and see the surroundings from a bird’s-eye view. Inside the complex is a huge prayer yard. Here is built and dukka — the sacred basin for ablutions.
In the Jama Masjid mosque there is a copy of the holy Quran, a fragment from the tombstone of the Prophet Mohammed, as well as an imprint of his foot, left on a stone. The prayer halls are decorated with white marble, on which black marble is inscribed. Traditionally, before visiting the mosque should be removed shoes. And although the entrance to the temple is free for people of all faiths, on Fridays at lunchtime there are sermons that only Muslims can attend. For photo and video will have to pay a small amount.
How to get there
Landmark Jama Masjid is located in old Delhi. If you take the subway, you need to go to the station Chawri Bazar.
The Lodi Gardens, which appeared in 1936, were planted almost in the center of Delhi. This is not just a recreation park with a large green area, but also a nature reserve, and a popular resting place for citizens. This is a whole garden complex, where many rare plants grow, exotic birds live, and goldfish swim in a local lake.
Shady alleys call for a walk, and green meadows invite you to relax and lie on the grass. Lodi gardens come to rest from the city noise, dream about something good, meditate in the lap of nature. Frequent here and yoga lovers. This area is a small reserve of butterflies and Bonsai National Park, where mini-plants feel great. Here are just the usual cafes and shops in the gardens are not found.
In the reserve there are several attractions. These are ancient tombs preserved to our days, built in the XV – XVI centuries. The rulers of the Lodi and Said dynasties were buried in them. Now you can understand in honor of whom the nearby street and the gardens themselves were named.
Not all tombs are preserved in good condition. The decoration is partially lost, the walls are damaged in some places, but the city authorities are trying to put the buildings in order. Archaeological excavations on the territory of the garden are prohibited, everything is under state protection.
The oldest building is considered to be the tomb of Sultan Mohamed Shah, the last ruler of the Said dynasty. The octagonal tomb is located on a small elevation. Inside are the sarcophagi of the Sultan himself and several of his wives. The large dome is the mausoleum of Bar Gumbad, made in the form of a square structure. Very similar to him is another tomb of Shisha Gumbard. Not far built mosque with minarets.
How to get there
Lodi Gardens are located in the center of Delhi, so you can get here by rickshaw or order a taxi. Nearby is the metro station Central Secretariat. Fifteen minutes walk and you are there.